It’s OK To Not Be OK During A Pandemic Holiday Season
I've know so many people over the years who bristle at the holiday season. I've never really been that type of person. In fact, most of the rest of the year I usually find pretty depressing, but actually get a little bit of relief around the holidays. Probably because of the closeness of my family, which I've always been able to lean on.
But other folks get downright gloomy around the holidays. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It's easy to dismiss someone's gloom and doom as selfish humbuggishness, but some folks truly hurt this time of year. Whether it's the memory of a lost loved one, or trauma surrounding the holidays, this time of year can be incredibly hard for some.
Now add this pandemic to the situation. Maybe like myself, you've lived most of your life depending on a little mental health re-charge from your family, and this year a lot folks may have to miss out on that because of the pandemic. And I'm not here to sugar coat it. For a lot of folks, having Zoom lift their time limit won't even begin to cut the mustard.
Mental health issues come in many forms. Sometimes it's being bipolar. Sometimes it's Borderline Personality Disorder. Other times, it may be that you miss your family so damned bad, you don't know what to do. Or maybe seeing happy couples at Christmas makes you cringe in a bad way inside. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Or maybe, just maybe, you're one of the fortunate people who doesn't suffer from any inner turmoil around the holidays. This is your time to shine for the people who do. It never has to be over-the-top, but make sure to acknowledge your friends who might be suffering.
Sometimes it's just a card or a phone call, other times it might be taking a friend or family member in for the holidays, circumstances depending. But don't ever assume they're ok. Just because you're not hearing from them, doesn't mean they're sitting around bubbly as a bath. They might be sitting alone crying, not knowing what to do.
Because that's what depression does. It takes away your ability to make decisions for yourself. And sometimes folks in that spot need someone else to make a decision for them. Sometimes the first step to getting better, is just to feel seen. So many people with mental illness try to tough it out for the sake of their "healthy" friends.
But often what they really need is a little extra patience while they navigate a difficult holiday season made worse by this awful pandemic. This is just another way the pandemic has been so hurtful. And for those struggling, it's just that much worse.
As you go through this season, please, please, please check in on your friends and family that might be going through this. At first they may seem resistant to help, but trust me, for a lot of them, it's what they truly want, they just don't know how to ask in a way that makes them feel empowered. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
But that's how you can help. Just see them, and accept them.
If you know someone struggling deeply this year, or any year, talk to them. And hopefully no one ever needs it, but the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24-7/365 at 1-800-273-8255.